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As I mentioned in my last blog I have been at Oracle Open World the last few days. The highlight of OOW is usually Larry Ellison's keynote and this year did not disappoint, although this was not a typical Larry Ellison keynote. Usually he demonstrates something, for example, RAC, Oracle Spatial, some aspect of grid computing, mobile, etc. But this year he really did something different and it is going to change things in the computing world.
To set the stage, before Larry's keynote the executive staff of NASDAQ was on hand at Moscone in San Francisco. They brought along the big button that rings the closing bell to close trading at NASDAQ. NASDAQ were on hand to celebrate with Larry, Safra Catz, and Charles Phillips the 20th anniversary of Oracle's listing on NASDAQ. The entire audience counted down to 2 pm PDT (5m EDT), and watched Larry, Safra, and Charles push the closing bell. The important thing for what follows is that the market was officially closed before Larry began his keynote.
After a few photo sessions, Larry began his keynote. He started off fairly innocuously, talking about grid computing and the history of Oracle's commitment to grid computing from the early clustering days based on VAXes to the modern Intel and AMD-based x86 servers running Oracle RAC.
This lead to Oracle's early commitment to Linux, Oracle's development of a clustering file system that was accepted into the Linux kernel, and other Oracle development effort to make Linux secure, highly available, and reliable. But Oracle feels that even though Linux adoption on the server has been rapid, it still has not achieved the penetration it should have. In Oracle's opinion there are three reasons for this.
1) Hot fixes - Fixes are delivered in the next version of Linux, not the one you are currently using.
2) Cost - The cost of support is too high.
3) No indemnification - If another SCO comes along, there is a risk that Linux customers may be sued over copyright infringement.
Still nothing really surprising in this. But the next thing Larry said was a bombshell.
Unbreakable Linux 2.0
Oracle is going to offer support for Red Hat Linux, which is by far the market leader in Linux. Oracle
will offer a basic support package which Oracle says is equivalent to Red Hat's current support package, at approximately half the price of Red Hat's(Oracle's figures). And in addition Oracle will indemnify its Linux support customers. You can download Red Hat Linux with Oracle's bug fixes for free from Oracle's web site. And as was demonstrated in the keynote, you can switch from Red Hat Linux support to Oracle Linux support in about 40 seconds. Oracle says it is going to keep its distros in sync with Red Hat's, which will be an interesting process to watch.
Michael Dell in a video said Dell will support Oracle's Unbreakable Linux initiative.
And then somehow Larry brought some real penguins onto the stage. They were a bit shy so I was unable to get any pictures.
First of all this means some good, but more bad for Red Hat. It will further solidify Red Hat Linux as the market leader, but I expect that a significant proportion of Red Hat's Linux support business will move to Oracle. When I looked this morning, Red Hat's share price was down compare to last night's close by over 25%. Secondly, it is good for Linux customers, there will be better and cheaper support, and companies who have hesitated to adopt Linux because of indemnification fears, won't have to worry about that any longer. Software vendors like Autodesk who have released server products on Linux (for example, MapGuide Enterprise) are going to feel vindicated in their decision to support Linux because they will see an increasing proportion of Linux sales, because this can't help but spur Linux adoption.
I've been at the first day of Oracle Open World in San Francisco. This conference is huge, I have heard estimates of 47,000 visitors. A major street in the middle of San Francisco has been closed to accommodate this volume of people.
Conferences like this and Autodesk University (Nov 28 - Dec 1) are valuable because they bring together a lot of people, many of whom are technical (at Autodesk University most of the participants are technical), and you can pick up some very interesting information and meet people you might not have run into otherwise.
There were two very interesting sessions I found some time to attend, the first was a panel of Oracle folks (Ken Jacobs, Chris Jones, Mike Olson, and Omar Tazi) discussing Oracle and open source, the second a presentation by Noel Yuhanna of Forrester on the future of databases.
Oracle and Open Source
This was a very interesting discussion. First of all I was surprised to see Ken Jacobs on this panel. I have been acquainted with Ken for many years, starting back in the days when Oracle began looking at long transactions and versioning (now encapsulated in Workspace Manager). He has been at Oracle for a long time and has always been on the forefront of technology. When you see Ken involved with something you know immediately it is new and it will become a big thing at Oracle. Ken's new role involves open source and in particular he is responsible for the Innodb team in Helsinki, which Oracle acquired in the past year. For those of you not familiar with Innodb, it is open source and was the default data store for MySQL for several years. Also on the panel was Mike Olson, who used to be the CEO of Sleepycat which was responsible for Berkeley DB, prior to being acquired by Oracle. Mike is now responsible for embedded databases at Oracle. Berkeley DB was and is open source and is estimated to be running at 200 million sites around the world (considerably increasing Oracle's installed base I would add.) The other panel members were Chris Jones, who is responsible for Oracle's PHP support, and Omar Tazi, who is Oracle's chief open source evangelist.
To me, and I think to the audience, the message conveyed by this panel is that Oracle has supported open source for many years starting with Apache and Linux, that Oracle is not "religious" about open source, that its primary business remains closed source, but that Oracle sees a market need and opportunity in the open source arena. It sees advantages in having open source offerings for both market expansion and for revenue generation. Based on this panel I would say that Oracle is serious about open source technology, the open source market, and the open source business model and doesn't intend, for example, to take BerekelyDB proprietary. Oracle seems to be continuing with the same dual license open source business model that Sleepycat used for 10 years. Also Oracle has released two new versions of Berkeley DB since acquiring Sleepycat. One can only speculate about Oracle, MySQL and PostgreSQL, but I suspect that Oracle sees MySQL has the major competitor in the open source market and I expect something interesting will evolve with InnoDB.
An interesting factoid that indicates the business opportunity that Oracle sees in the open source market is that the total revenue from Linux-based RDBMs in 2005 was $1.5 billion, of which Oracle's market share was 80.6%. Oracle RDBMS is a proprietary product which it is selling successfully into the Linux market. Clearly Oracle sees significant revenue opportuntities in the open source marke.
Oracle is also investing in open source. In addition to acquiring InnoDB and Sleepycat, Oracle contributed its cluster file system to the Linux effort, and has contributed to Apache, open source testing, and other initiatives.
The Open Source Geospatial Foundation has chosen Tyler Mitchell as Executive Director. Tyler will be responsible for the OSGEO's day-to-day operations in support of both development and promotion.
Tyler was one of the first in 2004 to recognize the important of the formation of an open source geospatial foundation and was a major driving force in forming the OSGEO Foundation. Tyler began working in the geospatial sector in British Columbia forestry in 1996 and has been using open source software for nearly a decade, including Linux, MapServer, and PostGIS,so he knows whereof he speaks. Tyler is the author of Web Mapping Illustrated. Tyler currently lives in Prince George BC, but is moving to Williams lake. For those of you not familair with northern Britich Columbia geography, Williams Lake is near 100 Mile House.